After the Fight

Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry.

Ephesians 4:26

Sometimes it's not the fight itself that's damaging, but what happens when the battle is over. Think for a moment about your own verbal spats with your mate. Do they usually result in a time of healing, or are issues left hanging for a "rematch" later on? Do you and your spouse agree to leave an argument behind after you've talked it out, or is there a prolonged period of distance and silence?

In unstable marriages, conflict is never entirely resolved. Resentment and hurt feelings accumulate over time and eventually turn to bile in the soul, which then erodes the relationship from within. But in healthy relationships, confrontation allows ventilation that ends in forgiveness, a drawing together, and a better understanding of each other.

After an argument with your spouse, ask yourself these four important questions: Are there things I've said or done that have grieved my partner? Do I need to ask forgiveness for attacking the self-worth of my spouse? Have I refused to let go of an issue even though I said it was settled? Are there substantive matters that haven't been resolved? Then move to put an end to the conflict—before the sun goes down.

Just between us . . .

• In our last fight, did we resolve the issue in question?

• Do our conflicts usually end positively, or with hurt feelings and unanswered questions?

• What changes would help us resolve conflicts "before the sun goes down"?

Lord, give us the maturity and strength to settle our disagreements quickly and without damaging the personhood of each other. We know that this is Your will for us, but we need Your guidance to live by it. Amen.

Night Light for Couples

By Dr. James Dobson

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